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How common is HIV among women in the United States?

In 2009 women represented 24% of all diagnoses of HIV infection among U.S. adults and adolescents in 40 reporting states. In 2008, an estimated 25% of adults and adolescents living with HIV infection were female. Approximately 1.2 million total people in the U.S. are living with HIV.

Since the beginning of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemic in the mid-1980s, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections among U.S. women have increased, especially in women of color. In 1985, only a small percentage of people living with AIDS were female. Today, women make up 24%. The good news is that infections among U.S. women began decreasing in 2001.

Even though the rate of diagnosis for black women has decreased significantly since 2001, it remains 20 times the rate for white women. Black women represent about 13-14% of all U.S. women and, yet, account for 64% of AIDS cases in women. Hispanic women, who represent about 17% of U.S. women, make up 15% of women with AIDS. White women, who represent about 80% of U.S. women, account for only 18% of people with AIDS.

The higher infection rate for women of color may be due to multiple factors, including lack of HIV knowledge, lower perception of risk, drug or alcohol use and different interpretations of safer sex, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The death rate due to HIV/AIDS is also higher in women of color. According to the CDC, deaths due to HIV infection were among the top 10 leading causes of death for black females age 10 to 54 and Hispanic/Latina females age 15 to 54.

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